A place for a cynical person to write his cynical petty little thoughts and musings.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Comedy Review- Smokin' Aces


Starring: Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys

With a nod, or perhaps a slap to the face of Quentin Tarantino comes Smokin’ Aces. The film’s concept is a simple one. Jeremy Piven playing basically the role of Jeremy Piven is a magician named Buddy 'Aces' Israel with a primadonna complex and some lame card tricks. Through a very fast flashback we see that he rose from being a Vegas lounge act to mafia leader in what seemed to be a matter of weeks. And that folks is all the character development you’re gonna get. For immunity “Aces” goes to the FBI to rat out another mafia boss Primo Sparazza who’s story we learn from another 30-second flashback, and if memory serves he never utters a line of dialogue in this entire movie. This prompts a bounty of a million clams on Aces head and 7 hit men/women of various wackiness come a runnin'. Their character development consists of that’s right, you guessed it, 30-second flashbacks! Conveniently, each time a new character emerges their name appears in subtitles beneath them. Good thing, because it you closed your eyes for a second you’ll miss it all.

The problem with this film is that you never get any time with any character, thus never giving a flying fuck about any of them. Even the good guy FBI agents, Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta get little more than a few minutes of dialogue with each other, but come off as a 2 dimensional picture of an FBI man.

One group after Aces is three-bail bondsmen lead by Ben Affleck, who are quickly put away with by the more psychotic hit man group. The least experienced of the three survives and ends up in the country with a white trash grandma and her ADD karate loving erection prone grandson. I’m not sure why this side story exists since it doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the plot, nor does anything get resolved. In fact the movie loves not resolving things. After seeing it you’ll lie in bed at night and say to yourself, “I wonder what happened to that character?” then before drifting off to sleep you’ll remember that you don’t really care.

About three quarters into the film you see what you really came to see. Mainly hit men tripping over each other and killing one another in fun and fantastic ways. And for a few minutes you forget that you don’t care about anyone here and enjoy the senseless violence.

There are some laughs in this Comedy/Action. Though the characters are very 2 dimensional, the laughs are born out of their perchance for violence, and what is supposed to be snappy dialogue. We’ve seen it before, people about to commit crimes of violence and talking about things unrelated. There are two female assassins that are particularly enjoyable to watch as one extols the rhetoric of feminism before getting ready to blow off people’s heads.

The major issue here is that no one actor gets enough screen time to make a meal out of the character they are given. It’s got a lot of talented performers, but it’s like being on the bus with them. It’s cool to see them there, just not all that entertaining.

The best part of this film was the ending, where Reynolds’s character does something so unbelievably unrealistic the audience at once all says, “Yeah, right!” But then again I’m a sucker for a crowd of people being disappointed all at once, and once the lights in the theatre came up and I saw all the disappointed faces I had to laugh out loud.

Why You Should See It: Jason Bateman’s cameo, though completely irrelevant to the film is just damned funny and a touch shocking.

Why You Shouldn’t See It: It’s entirely forgettable and the actors are wasted.

Funny Factor: Some good laughs, but just doesn’t make up for the negatives.

What To See Instead: Check out Pulp Fiction for the violent humour, or watch It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World for a film that managed character development with dozens of characters that trip over each other.

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